Saturday, August 17, 2013

Building a Collaborative Online Environment

                                   Building a Collaborative Online Environment 

Collaboration is the success in almost every environment learning, work, relationships etc. By engaging with one another you can enhance and promote learning. It also increases the efficiency of work and reaching the goal you hope to achieve. Collaboration also helps to grow an individuals knowledge and thought processes. By working together and sharing ideas you can improve your ideas and others by fine tuning elements associated with each. You can also determine that an idea that you might of had may not be the best idea or process from the feedback of others. In the online environment, it iimperative that they be active knowledge generators who assume responsibility for constructing and managing their won learning experiences (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011).

This week you will begin your discussion by thinking of situations you were a part of in a collaborative asynchronous online environment and reflect upon them.

For example: 
  • How can subject matter experts and instructors incorporate activities that promote collaborative learning in an online environment?
  • What have you learned that could promote collaborative learning? Ex: ADDIE
  • What are some positives and negatives that could occur when working in an online environment when collaborating with peers?
  • What are some pieces of advice you could offer to your peers?

By Wednesday:

Using these items as a guideline to create a discussion post, reflect on your learning experiences in an online collaborative environment that promoted learning. Be sure that you included experiences that promoted and incorporated positive online learning. Feel free to include examples of situations that were difficult or did not work when collaborating. Provide a minimum of 3 examples from the questions above. 

By Sunday:

Reply to at least three of your classmates initial post and provide insight,constructive feedback, and ideas that expand and deepen the initial discussion post.

Discussion rubric:

Additional Learning Resources


Horton, W. (2006).  Designing for the Virtual Classroom, E-Learning by Design.Retrieved August 14, 2013 from


Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. (2011). Engaing the online learner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass A Wiley Imprint. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

The two most commonly used plagiarism software programs are EVE (Essay Verification  Engine) software, and My mother is an instructor for a college and she said that they have been using for many years and are happy with it. What I have found through my research is that bigger colleges either have their own data base/software program or they subscribe to a major servicer like TI. The basis of these plagiarism engines is to cross reference prior submissions to their data base. I think that all schools should use the same engine that is governed by an educational company similar to the Department of Education. The reason for this is because then all papers are submitted to one data base and will offer the biggest sampling of documents/submissions to cross reference. Both the above mentioned websites compare individual student papers to the databases. This is done to find and report instances of matching text. Turnitin catches Web plagiarism and checks sources from students’ bibliographies for plagiarism, including articles that are unavailable on the Web. Another facet of cross referencing or anti-plagiarism is the course management systems or CMS that an institution uses. Angel and Blackboard monitor and set limitations for the assigned work students do. It may limit time, date, and access points such as monitoring the I.P. address from which the user is doing the work.

How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

Assessments must have key components built into them clearly outlining rules, regulations and ramifications. If the design of the assessment is built well and the communication is clear and concise the student shouldn’t have any problems understanding the information. Part of the assessment design is the verbiage used in the instructions before the assignment and after the assignment. For online learners, e-assessments offer the same flexibility and feedback that the online course does. Essentially it is an extension of the online course and should be built into it.

Plagiarism is still a concern in academia. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, To “Plagiarize” means:

·         to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own

·         to use (another's production) without crediting the source
·         to commit literary theft
·         to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

One thing I noticed is that when an instructor creates questions or assignments that require or suggest the use of real life experiences or scenarios, it helps to reduce the amount plagiarisms because the information produce by the students is typically unique to them. My first online course required the use of a proctor for the four tests that I had for the course. In some instances I believe a proctor is absolutely necessary but as a result reduces the amount of flexibility associated with the course.  Proctors help to ensure that students take the assessment at a designated time, without collaborators and unauthorized materials (Rowe, 2004). Assignments can be designed to incorporate collaboration, including discussion posts and online group projects (Boettcher & Conrad, 2011).

What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

The video in this week’s resources revealed some great information. One of the important functions of a facilitator, “Is to educate learners about copyright, fair use, plagiarism, and cheating” (Laureate Education, n.d.). Standard operating procedures should be a mandatory requirement imposed by the educational institution such as course requirements, syllabus, and available resources such as Turnitin,, writing centers, peers and more. It is not only on the instructors and educational institutions responsibility to facilitate “clean learning” but also the student must be proactive in finding resources and asking questions for clarification and consistency.

What additional considerations for online teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

There questions that require unique individual responses is one way to reduce plagiarism. According to Rowe, “Drawing questions randomly for each student from a pool is one example, helping to is a plethora of methods to detect and prevent cheating and plagiarism. As mentioned before utilizing reorder multiple-choice answers randomly if possible (Rowe, 2004). In my freshmen year of my undergraduate studies our Psychology 100 course had four different versions of the same test. The test were color coded and the questions were reorder so that students could not cheat off of each other. Turnitin and other similar engines are the main source for plagiarism detection for text based submissions.


Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and 
practical pedagogical tips.
 San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Plagiarism and Cheating [Video webcast]. Retrieved June 13, 2013 from

Rowe, N.C. (2004). Cheating in Online Student Assessment: Beyond Plagiarism.Retrieved June 13, 2013 from

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Impact of Technology and Multimedia

Technology with the combination of multimedia and interactive mediums promotes learning and enhances the learner’s educational experiences. It helps build cognitive recall as well and makes information processing more efficient. With the development and enhancement of learning and multimedia platforms such as Moodle, Cisco Tele-presences, and Skype learning has become much more complex. However, if used properly it can enhance both the teacher and the learner’s experiences. It also offers a global learning experience for teachers and learners, connecting them like never before.

What are the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing technology?

As we have learned in our previous courses, it is imperative to plan ahead and consider the elements associated with your learn audience. When designing and implementing new technology or creating an online learning course similar factors must be considered. I would highly suggest creating and building in test phases to make sure everything is in accordance with the planning especially if the courses are live. Multimedia designed well and with a focusing purpose can add to the content delivery and meeting of diverse learner needs (Cooper, Colwel, & Jelfs, 2007).
When online courses are the focus, one element that gets over looked is the internet medium. Most of us are accustom to broad band high speed internet. However, learners are located all over the world where that service is not offered or is the band width is not adequate. Most LMS are interactive and contain elements like flash, adobe, and java that require high computing power and fast internet. Instructors need to be aware of those requirements but the student also needs to be prepared before they elect to participate in such courses with these requirements.

What implications do usability and accessibility of technology tools have for online teaching?

The college I work for has been providing online courses for 13 years. I was able to look at a time line development matrix of how the technology and services have evolved over those 13 years and it was amazing. With the development of mobile technology derived from military communications, it has changed the landscape of how learning and technology is delivered. Today online learners can download and stream multimedia content, submit documents, chat, video conference and collaborate on assignments using a tablet or a smart phone. The research and development of this technology can is very costly and sometimes hinders educational providers from providing the most up to date services. For example, the platform my company uses has a lot of trouble being compatible with mobile devices, primarily with the MAC-OS.  An online instructor must carefully plan and design the use of technology as a tool to meet a desired student outcome (Conrad, & Donaldson, 2011). 

What technology tools are most appealing to you for online teaching as you move forward in your career in instructional design?
There are three technology tools that I find interesting and would like to utilize in the future:
·         Aggregators- Are an awesome to help you keep up with the plethora of data produced daily. These aggregators help both the students and teachers stay on top of information, collecting, and processing.

·         Eyejot- This (free) video communication application is a great tool to send group or individual messages to friends, family, colleagues, and students. It adds a personal touch to communication by providing a visual element along with audio. Communication and planning are the two most important elements an instructor must consider.

·         Apple- Apple has taken interactive learning to a whole new dimension. Their technology has transcended across generations. There are 4 years using interactive tools on an iPad to learn while business men and women use business applications on a daily basis to great grandparents using it to check their email or read an e-book.

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231-245.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Setting Up An Online Learning Experience

What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you? 
In order to be successful in helping others learn you must be adequately prepared in a plethora of ways. Your teaching and assessment tools require careful planning and must be combined with the effective use of technology and learning goals. With the effective use of technologies such as the Course Management System (CMS) allows for learning to be fun and engaging.

With the advancement of technology and recent social media boom combined with increasingly busy lifestyles, online learning has become very popular. It is becoming very prevalent for K-12 and higher education institutions to offer online courses. These online courses typically require a CMS, this CMS must be learned inside and out by the instructor(s) so they can harness its full potential and pass along the benefits to the students. The first thing teachers need to be concerned with is to get acquainted with the tools the course management system offers and to “keep it simple” (Boettcher, J., Conrad, R., 2010, p. 57). Some different course management systems include Blackboard®, Canvas®, Moodle®, and Angel®.
Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners? 

Clear expectations must be delivered right away as it is the starting point for the rest of the work to come. Once the student understands what is expected of them, it is their responsibility to achieve the goals. One way is an instructor can make sure their expectations are being delivered is by a syllabus and updated weekly plans. Also, a more engaging way of communicating expectations and information is create a short weekly video explaining the assignments for the week or holding a live lecture/information session weekly that can be archived and referred to at a later point in time. One tool I like to use is: The role of the instructor is to “guide and mentor students in learning content knowledge and achieve the performance goals of a course” (Boettcher, J., Conrad, R., 2010, p. 71).

What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

The more engaging and interactive an online learning experience is the more likely the student will be able to retain and recall the information. Many Instructional designers use ADDIE as the model for developing e-learning (ADDIE, 2013). Online learning can be conducted in simple written text with pictures. However, that is not the most effect way to use online learning. Social media, audio, visual, interactive blogs, games, and live feeds all need to be utilized (when appropriate) to create a memorable learning experience. At the college I work for our retention rate is most greatly affected in the first two weeks of class and the first quarter of school. If the students are not engaged in the first two weeks, the likely hood of them withdrawing is significantly high. If they fail 25% of their course load in the first quarter they are less likely to continue their degree (Associates Degree).
ADDIE. (2013, 05 23). Retrieved from Big dog little dog Performance Juxtaposition: 

Boettcher, J., Conrad, R. (2010). Chapter 4: Phase One: What's Happening, Themes, and Tools. Starting Off on the Right Foot in Course Beginnings. In J. C. Boettcher, The Online Teaching Survival Guide. Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips (pp. 51-61). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Imprint.

Boettcher, J., Conrad, R. (2010). Chapter 5: Phase One: Tips for Course Beginnings. In The Online Teaching Survival Guide, Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips (pp. 62-99). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Imprint.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Online Learning Communities

The goal of most classrooms is to become more of a hybrid classroom. These classrooms aim to boast the benefits of a traditional class room setting infused with technology to increase student and teacher interaction and provide a unique type of learning environment.  “While the traditional classroom remains teacher centered, the online environment fosters more interaction among students and is one of the cited benefits of online learning by both teachers and students (Stacey, & Wiesenberg, 2007).”

The hybrid classroom requires a considerable amount of planning and additional resources which makes them hard to develop without proper funding and resources. “Although considerable time is needed to build the course material prior to launching the course, teachers have seen growth in their craft by the reflective practice of reviewing their content for delivery online and in the rich discussions students create online and which instructors facilitate rather than dictate (So, & Bush, 2008).” 

The flexibility and access to course materials that hybrid classrooms offer is very beneficial to the students and the instructor. It removes limitations that were once present before the advent of online learning. Learning can take place in a face to face setting, synchronous or asynchronous environment. The typical restrictions and limitations that were accepted in the learning world are now being shattered and considered unacceptable. For example, the limitations of the learning location is no longer an issue. Students are able to cross collaborate with other students and instructors across the globe.

As the spectrum of learning is changing so are the expectations of students and instructors. Both students and instructors need to understand that online learning complements the traditional instruction without doubling the workload (So, & Bush, 2008). Teachers who pay attention to student workload and facilitate their online environment, the benefits are greater for blended classroom instruction than either virtual or face-to-face methods alone (Gedik, Kiraz, & Özden, 2012).


Gedik, N., Kiraz, E., & Özden, M. Y. (2012).  The optimum blend: Affordances and
challenges of blended learning for students.  Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, July 2012, 3(3), 102-117.

So, H., & Bush, T. A. (2008).  Student perceptions of collaborative learning, social
presence and satisfaction in a blended learning environment: Relationships and critical factors. Computers & Education, 51, 318-336.

Stacey, E. & Wiesenberg, F. (2007).  A study of face-to-face and online teaching
philosophies in Canada and Australia.  Journal of Distance Education, 22(1), 19-40.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Analyzing Scope Creep

Since I don't have any professional project management experience I will follow up on one of my previous blog post, Post Mortem of a Project to address scope creep affecting a project. When I was looking at purchasing a home, one of the items that I wanted was to be able to remodel certain parts of the house so I could add my own touch. When I purchased the house the first project I decided to do was to add a bathroom to the basement. I set a budget for the project that ended up being roughly $2,000 above my budget. 

I did a little bit of planning for the project and had some professional help a long the way. However, as I was progressing through the project I found myself adjusting my plan on the fly and thinking of different ideas and items to add to the bathroom. The relocation of the bathroom is what caused most of the scope creep. I ended up spending more time driving back and forth to Home Depot than I did actually working on the project in the initial phases of the project. Once I learned from my mistakes I was able to follow a plan of action and began to work more efficiently. 

My lack of planning led to me spending an exorbitant amount of time working on this project. As a result, I wasn't devoting as much attention to my homework and other aspects of my life as I did in the past. If I would of spent more time in the planning phase initially and consulting with subject matter experts (plumber, contractor, electrician, etc) I could of saved myself a lot of time and money (deadlines & budgeting). 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Communicating Effectively

I received a message from my supervisor last week; below you will find the message.

I was wondering if you were able to complete the new SOP for our internal application review project today instead of the original due date; this Friday. If we can get it done before the due date it would allow me to review it and compare it to our Florida location’s SOP draft. I took a look at your schedule and it looks like you have plenty of meetings and will be at one of our satellite locations on Thursday. Please let me know what time you will have it to me on Thursday. Thanks, Jessica.

Text version:
When I read the email I assumed that Jessica was asking me if I could accommodate her request. As I continued to read the email, the end of sounded like I had to have it done early based on the last sentence, “Please let me know what time you will have it to me on Thursday.” Her tone in the email sounds sympathetic in relation to my busy schedule. Because she is my supervisor she technically didn’t have to acknowledge my busy schedule or ask if I could accommodate her request. This text had mixed messages in it. However, with Jessica being my supervisor, it would be in my best interest to accommodate her request regardless of her “asking”.

This email needed to be organized better and be more concise. It had mixed messaging that confused the recipient (me). Dr. Stolovitch stated that, “Written communications should begin with a clear purpose.” I think Jessica could have simply asked, “Steve, can you get the new SOP report to me by Thursday instead of Friday?” That would have been just as effective.

Audio Version:
The same message was delivered to me via a voice message that Jessica left on my office and cell phone. The audio version of the message provided me with more color. I could sense urgency, panic, and concern in her voice. There was more of a sympathetic tone acknowledging my busy schedule. This in turn made the message sound more genuine.

In person:
Jessica is a very jovial person but is also very direct. We had an all staff meeting and after the meeting she asked the same question she had emailed to me and left as a voice message (I returned both the email and phone call prior to the meeting). When she made the request of me I could tell that she was more so “telling” me to have it done by Thursday but the rest of her mannerisms were suggesting that I had the option to have it done by Thursday instead of Friday. Dr. Stolovitch stated, “Tonality and body language are important elements in communicating in person.” The more familiar you are with a person in different settings and situations, the better you can interpret their message(s).

In my opinion, the best version of the message was the voice message she delivered to me because it include her voice/tone and was clear and concise. The second best version was in person but was diluted by her mannerisms. Normally body language and in person communication is the best and most preferred version of communication. In this particular instance, it was not. The email offers an added element. There can be a consistent paper trail and the messages can be reviewed multiple times and contain the same message. Dr. Stolovitch suggests that oral communication should always be documented.

Multimedia Program: “The Art of Effective Communication”

Video Program: "Communicating with Stakeholders" 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Post-mortem of a Project

I recently purchased my first home this past October and immediately began a project to construct a new bathroom in the basement. I wanted to add a basement bathroom so that the bedrooms downstairs could use it and it is provides one of the biggest return on investments for a house. I felt that I had enough skills to complete the project with a little help. Well it turned out I need more help than I thought. I did my research by reviewing do it yourself (DIY) manuals and speaking with professionals. My goal was to have it done in 2 months (working on it during the weekends).

Unfortunately it is January 27th, 2013 and the it is still not finished due to my lack of planning, understanding, and execution. I should of incorporated more planning into the project which would of made me aware of the mistakes I made along the way up to this point and would of eliminated the set backs I encountered.
A simple feasibility study would of outlined that I:
1: Lacked the plumbing skills and know how to run piping correctly for pressure.  
2: Did not purchase the correct materials and used the wrong materials in some instances. 
3: Didn't think to consult with a city inspector before choosing the location of the new bathroom
4: Didn't have some of the necessary equipment needed to access the old pipes under the ground. 

The biggest mistake was that I did not account for the adjustment of water pressure needed with the addition of a full bathroom. When the ground was all dug up, luckily a friend who has much more construction experience was able to help me lay the pipe in a manner that allowed for new piping to tap into existing piping. My mistake was running the piping through the frame work of the bathroom and not allowing enough venting. I also began installing the shower, sink, vanity, and toilet before installing the drywall because I wanted the bathroom functioning. That mistake tripled the amount of time it took to hang the dry wall because everything had to be cut around the fixtures that I installed. As a lesson learned, I should of done more research and preparation as well as consulting (effective communication) with industry professionals (SME's). If I would of done this I could of put together a plan to follow as well as give me a visual map along the way. Perhaps I was not comfortable with my learning environment. If the learner is comfortable with the learning environment, they are more apt to take to it (Siemens, 2012).